Have ‘ghost accounts’ online? If so, take this decisive step now

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Do you have any 'ghost accounts' online? If so, take this decisive step
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According to a fairly recent survey, the average internet user has somewhere around 30 discrete online accounts. Of course, some of these are accounts like email clients that people log into every day. But many of them are likely long-since abandoned (MySpace, anyone?) — we call these “ghost accounts.”

Do you have ‘ghost accounts’ online? Here’s what you need to do

Rather than having these ghost accounts just lingering out there, it’s a good idea to deactivate or delete them completely.

Why? Because even if these accounts go dormant, the information they house lives on and remains accessible to those who may try to access it and use it for no good.

Here’s why you should delete your ghost accounts

People who have numerous ghost accounts are just asking for trouble. Your personal information could easily fall into the wrong hands.

The recent disclosure of the Google Plus data breach, and the company’s conscious decision to hide it, underscores how your personal data may be still “out there” on a major platform, making it susceptible to crooks looking for ways to hatch any number of nefarious schemes to gain control of your identity.

With that in mind, Google says that it is shutting down Google Plus, but for millions of users, their data is still available and will be for about 10 months or so.

How to download your Google Plus data

But you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) wait.

One thing to note is that removing your Google Plus account does not remove or delete your general Google account, which you likely will still want to use. If you want to archive and remove your imprint from Google Plus, here’s what you do:

  • Go to Google Takeout, where you’ll see a laundry list of data points, showing you a glimpse of the breadth of information Google has on you.
  • Click the “Select None / Select All” button and manually toggle on each Google product that you want to archive. Of course, you can include data from more than one source, such as Google Photos, Maps, Shopping Lists, Gmail and more.
  • Next you’ll have to choose how you want your archive formatted. Once you hit the button, the download will begin.

Have more ghost accounts? Here’s how to delete a Skype account, your Microsoft account and even deactivate your Facebook.

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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